The most infamous landmark in Brantford is the mighty Grand River, surging with life giving water and fish sustaining both people and wildlife alike. Our great city got its name from when chief Joseph Brant forded the river in 1784. So many Brantford residents have spent countless hours fishing, canoeing/kayaking or swimming in this vast, impressive body of water.
During the 18th century, the French colonists named it Grande-Rivière. The Grand River is a Canadian Heritage River, and is an integral part of Brantford’s history. Known as the ‘Highway of the Iroquois’
Did you know that is source is near Wareham, Ontario? No? Neither did I, never heard of the place. It flows through Grand Valley, Fergus, Elora, Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Paris, Brantford, Caledonia and Cayuga then it empties into the north shore of Lake Erie just south of Dunnville, Ontario.
The river’s rural charm, ease of access and lack of portages make it the perfect canoeing location, especially the stretch between West Montrose and Paris. A number of conservation areas have been established along the river, and are managed by the Grand River Conservation Authority.
For the avid fisherman the local fish species found in the Lower Grand River include Walleye, Sauger, Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Yellow Perch, Crappie, Sunfish, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Channel Catfish. In the Middle & Lower Grand River you can also find Mooneye and migrating Steelhead every fall.
The most majestic and magnificent feature of the Grand River is the awe inspiring Elora Gorge, located in Elora, Ontario, just an hour and 15 minutes drive north. The Grand River rushes past 22-metre high cliffs. Riverside trails (with safety barriers) and scenic overlooks provide hikers with stunning views of the water far below where kayakers and tubers make their way through the rapids. Elora Gorge conservation area features a plethora of fun and adventure including: camping, tubing, Elora Quarry, cliffs, caves and glacial potholes and it’s the perfect place to go to reconnect with nature, unplug and relax.
The Grand River has played a vital role in the development of Brantford. In the nineteenth century, the river provided the opportunity for economic growth when barges brought new materials up and manufactured goods down the River to the Great Lakes and beyond.
There’s a rich and compelling history behind our iconic Grand River that not too many people know very much about. It’s important that we don’t forget where we came from as it gives us insight into where we are going.